Tag Archives: Sandy

What’s Good About That News?

Read Matthew 23; Matthew 25:31-46; Luke 4:16-21

“Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble.'” (Luke 17:1-2, NRSV)

What's Good About This News?It’s Tuesday night, October 30, and my family and I were huddled around our kerosene lamp playing Yahtzee, as we still have no power (I am typing this on my iPhone, which has limited and sketchy connectivity) or heat. As we were getting ready to play Yahtzee, our phone rang. My youngest jumped up to answer it, in hopes it was her grandmother calling to wish her a happy birthday. But when she answered the phone, it was a pre-recorded evangelical message from some Christian group.

“Has God given up on America?” It asked. “Come and worship and tell us about your beliefs…”, to which my wife then took the phone and hung it up.

I couldn’t believe it. It was a message targeting people who had just gotten hit with the storm of the century in order to evangelize them, promote their church, and “bring the good news.” But let me ask this, what kind of good news is that?” To people who are dealing with their lives being washed away by a super-storm, how is worshipping at a church going to help them out?

It’s this kind of theological positioning that Jesus himself stood against when the Pharisees were accusing him of working on the Sabbath. It is this kind of stuff that Jesus railed against in his stated woes against the religious leaders of his day and age. There is nothing good about the kind of news that takes advantage of people’s vulnerabilities and fears in order to manipulate and generate a “conversion” response.

Jesus taught us in Matthew 25 and in Luke 4 that his mission was to bring real good news to people. For instance, food is good news for the hungry, water for the thirsty, clothes for the naked, etc. Jesus didn’t hand the blind a scroll with his name and some scripture written on it; rather, he gave them sight. When the woman who committed adultery came to him, he didn’t hand her the Torah, the local synagogue address, while asking her what she believed and whether God had given up on her and Israel; rather, he offered her hope and forgiveness, even despite the fact that she never technically repented.

We, as Christians, have to be careful not to misrepresent the “Good News” and, therefore, misrepresent Christ. Imagine if all the money spent on that phone-calling campaign were given to agencies that are helping families devastated by the hurricane, just imagine what difference that could’ve made. Perhaps that would’ve spread the “good news” as opposed to spreading the erroneous fear of God “giving up” on everyone. Again, what’s good about that news? Remember, Jesus is calling us to be agents of God’s hope, healing and wholeness…not false prophets of the world’s doom.

If there is one thing we learn through scripture, even in the tumultuous events of Revelation, God never gives up on people.

Lord, guide me as I seek to represent you, and make me a witness of the hope, healing and wholeness that comes through you. Allow my love-filled actions to bear your good news for those in need. Amen.


Read Exodus 14; Mark 4:35-41

“Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the LORD your God who goes with you; he will not fail you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6, NRSV).

Well, for those of us who live along the Northeastern Seaboard of the United States, We can say that Hurricane Sandy arrived with a vengeance. And what a monster of a Storm. It’s around 10 PM on Monday, October 29, and I am writing this in the dark on my iPhone. There’s nothing quite like sitting a house with no power, faced with the sound of perilous wind howling like the hounds of hell outside and the uncertainty of what each moment might bring.

It is understandable how each and everyone of us can get caught in fear of the storms that interfere with our lives and threaten us. It is in moments like this, that I can relate with the disciples who feared for their lives as they were caught in a terrible storm while on the Sea of Galilee. It was not the storm that scared them as much as the thought of being in the storm alone.

The same is true for the Israelites during the exodus from Egypt. It is understandable how fearful they must have been when they were facing the depths of the sea, caught between a watery grave and Pharaoh’s legion fast approaching them. It is understandable how fearful people are when storms, literal or metaphorical, come crashing in with little to know warning.

Yet, Jesus tells us, just as he told the winds and the waves, “Peace! Be Still!” Jesus assures us that no matter how afraid we might be, we are not alone. God is with us and will never forsake us. Even when our lives are threatened, even when we pass from this life to eternity, God is always with us!

And that is reassuring. As I sit here in the dark, I can certainly imagine how much more terrifying it would be if I were here alone. I can hear the voices of my children playing and laughing as if Frankenstorm weren’t out side at all. This is because they are assured, just as I am assured, they are not alone! As a result of that assurance, they have nothing to fear. And that is the common theme through out all of Scripture…”Fear not, for I am with you! I will never leave you, nor forsake you. Peace! Be still, my child,” says the LORD, “for I AM with you always, even until the end of the age!”

No one is an island. When God created people, God created community.”

Lord, thank you for always being with me and for creatig me to be present in the lives of others. Amen.